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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Detailed Drug Information (USP DI) > Antidiabetic Agents, Sulfonylurea

Antidiabetic Agents, Sulfonylurea (Systemic)

Description and Brand Names | Before Using | Proper Use | Precautions | Side Effects | Additional Information

  • Antidiabetic - Acetohexamide; Chlorpropamide; Gliclazide; Glimepiride; Glipizide; Glyburide; Tolazamide; Tolbutamide
  • Antidiuretic - Chlorpropamide

Sulfonylurea antidiabetic agents (also known as sulfonylureas) are used to treat a certain type of diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) called type 2 diabetes. When you have type 2 diabetes, insulin is still being produced by your pancreas. Sometimes the amount of insulin you produce may not be enough or your body may not be using it properly and you may still need more. Sulfonylureas work by causing your pancreas to release more insulin into the blood stream. All of the cells in your body need insulin to help turn the food you eat into energy. This is done by using sugar (or glucose) in the blood as quick energy. Or the sugar may be stored in the form of fats, sugars, and proteins for use later, such as for energy between meals.

Sometimes insulin that is being produced by the body is not able to help sugar get inside the body's cells. Sulfonylureas help insulin get into the cells where it can work properly to lower blood sugar. In this way, sulfonylureas will help lower blood sugar and help restore the way you use food to make energy.

Many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood sugar level with diet or diet and exercise alone. Following a diabetes diet plan and exercising will always be important with any type of diabetes. To work properly, the amount of sulfonylurea you use must be balanced against the amount and type of food you eat and the amount of exercise you do. If you change your diet, your exercise, or both, you will want to test your blood sugar level so that it does not drop too low (hypoglycemia) or rise too high (hyperglycemia). Your health care professional will teach you what to do if this happens.

Sometimes patients with type 2 diabetes might need to change to treatment with insulin for a short period of time during pregnancy or for a serious medical condition, such as diabetic coma; ketoacidosis; severe injury, burn, or infection; or major surgery. In these conditions, insulin and blood sugar can change fast and blood sugar can be best controlled with insulin instead of a sulfonylurea.

At some point, a sulfonylurea may stop working as well and your blood sugar level will go up. You will need to know if this happens and what to do. Instead of taking more of this medicine, your doctor may change you to another sulfonylurea. Or your doctor may have you inject small doses of insulin or take another oral antidiabetic medicine called metformin along with your sulfonylurea to help the insulin you make work better. If that does not bring down the amount of sugar in your blood, your doctor may have you stop taking the oral antidiabetic agents and begin receiving only insulin injections.

Chlorpropamide may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Oral antidiabetic medicines do not help diabetic patients who have type 1 diabetes because these patients cannot produce or release insulin from their pancreas gland. Their blood sugar is best controlled by insulin injections.

Sulfonylureas are available only with your doctor's prescription, in the following dosage forms:

  • Acetohexamide
    • Tablets (U.S. and Canada)
  • Chlorpropamide
    • Tablets (U.S. and Canada)
  • Gliclazide
    • Tablets (Canada)
  • Glimepiride
    • Tablets (U.S.)
  • Glipizide
    • Tablets (U.S.)
    • Extended-release Tablets (U.S.)
  • Glyburide
    • Tablets (U.S. and Canada)
    • Micronized Tablets (U.S.)
  • Tolazamide
    • Tablets (U.S.)
  • Tolbutamide
    • Tablets (U.S. and Canada)

Brand Names

Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S. -

  • Amaryl 4
  • DiaBeta 6
  • Diabinese 2
  • Dymelor 1
  • Glucotrol 5
  • Glucotrol XL 5
  • Glynase PresTab 6
  • Micronase 6
  • Orinase 8
  • Tolinase 7

In Canada -

  • Albert Glyburide 6
  • Apo-Chlorpropamide 2
  • Apo-Glyburide 6
  • Apo-Tolbutamide 8
  • DiaBeta 6
  • Diabinese 2
  • Diamicron 3
  • Dimelor 1
  • Euglucon 6
  • Gen-Glybe 6
  • Med Glybe 6
  • Novo-Butamide 8
  • Novo-Glyburide 6
  • Novo-Propamide 2
  • Nu-Glyburide 6
  • Orinase 8

Another commonly used name for glyburide is glibenclamide .


For quick reference, the following sulfonylurea antidiabetic agents are numbered to match the corresponding brand names.

This information applies to the following medicines:
1. Acetohexamide (a-set-oh-HEX-a-mide)‡
2. Chlorpropamide (klor-PROE-pa-mide)‡§
3. Gliclazide (GLIK-la-zide)*
4. Glimepiride (GLYE-me-pye-ride)†
5. Glipizide (GLIP-i-zide)†
6. Glyburide (GLYE-byoo-ride)‡
7. Tolazamide (tole-AZ-a-mide)†‡
8. Tolbutamide (tole-BYOO-ta-mide)‡§
* Not commercially available in the U.S.
† Not commercially available in Canada
‡ Generic name product may be available in the U.S.
§ Generic name product may be available in Canada


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Antidiabetic Agents, Sulfonylurea: Before Using

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